Technology is taking over, but for girls in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum, the technology they are utilizing presents the potential for significant change in the area.
According to The Huffington Post, teenage girls in Dharavi are learning how to code from the Dharavi Diary project started by filmmaker Nawneet Ranjan. After learning initial coding, the girls then “develop apps that address issues their families and neighbors face, such as violence against women or access to clean water.”
To create the apps, the Huffington Post says the girls used the MIT App Inventor, which allows beginners to program and create apps with a simple drag-and-drop user interface. The product of their efforts with the tool: “Women Fight Back,” an app that attempts to address gender violence in the area and “features a distress alarm and pre-selected emergency contact numbers to help prevent violence against women, according to Business Insider.”
Looking to remedy another prevalent issue in the country, the Dharavi girls set their sights on creating an app that would aid in India’s water problem. As the Huffington Post reports, “India is the worst country in the world when it comes to the number of people without safe water, and the burden for collecting water often falls on girls, who can end up waiting hours a day to collect water, missing school as a result.”
Thus, they developed the “Paani” app, which “which helps residents avoid waiting in long lines for water at the community tap, according to The Hindu. The app creates an online queue, alerting households when it’s their turn,” says the Huffington Post.
Starting after a visit to their area for her 2012 documentary called, “Dharavi Diary,” Ranjan then moved from San Francisco to Mumbai to work with girls in the area to ignite change, says the Huffington Post.
The project started with only 15 girls in 2014, but two years later, it has grown to around 200 students, including several boys, according to Business Insider.
Speaking on the impetus behind the project, Ranjan told Mashable, “These kids didn’t have dreams and aspirations because they live in such difficult circumstances … I tried to get them to understand how technology can be used to challenge the status quo.”